Many children suck their thumb. It is a natural and satisfying behavior for babies. However, once permanent teeth start coming in, around the age of six, the habit can alter the position of baby’s developing teeth and the dental arches if it continues after his permanent teeth begin to erupt.
Fortunately, the damage is usually self-correcting, unless your youngster continues the habit much past the age of six. If you are having trouble getting your child to stop sucking his thumb, Dr. Anne A. Nicholas of The Palm Desert Center for Advanced Periodontics, Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry, may be able to offer some advice.
Make sure your child gets the benefits of the latest in cavity prevention, including fluorides and sealants. If you use bottled water, fluoride supplements are generally prescribed at age three, when all the baby teeth are in.
Have Dr. Nicholas apply a sealant to protect the biting surfaces of the molars. These are generally applied when the six-year molars come in. Sealants are nearly 100 percent effective in preventing cavities on the biting surfaces of molars, the most cavity-prone area of the mouth. They are approximately one-half the cost of a filling.
Do not give your child a bottle at night with juice or milk. If your child must have a bottle at bedtime, dilute it with water or use a pacifier.
If your child uses a pacifier, don’t dip it in any sweetener. Some doctors have taught this in the past and it is not a good idea!